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Want More Female Planners? Start Early

I am one of nine children, and my father and mother had to learn how to "spread the wealth" even when there wasn't a lot to spread around. This took a lot of skill, a significant amount of effort, and even a little bit of luck. It taught me and my siblings the value of money, but also sharing and sacrifice.

It wasn't called "financial planning" back then, but that's exactly what my parents were doing. My father was the primary breadwinner. My mother was the family's CEO -- she made sure that the money we had was put to good use. And indeed it was. They paid the bills, sent us to college and saved for a comfortable retirement.

While budgets may have been tight, my parents stretched every last dollar down to the penny. They taught us at a very early age the importance of saving and managing money. I had a savings account by age 5, and a checking account by the time I was in high school.


Those of us in the financial planning business who are CFP professionals are seeing a surge in demand for competent and ethical financial planning. There's a growing demand for financial planning services, especially as 10,000 people turn age 65 each day who want to retire in comfort.

We have a problem, though: There aren't enough of CFP professionals, especially women, to meet this need. This is one of the reasons I started the Women's Initiative when I was chairwoman of the Board of Directors for the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.
As the research the Women's Initiative released Tuesday shows, there are many reasons why only 23% of all 70,000 CFP professionals are women. But more importantly, this research will help us focus on how we can combat this problem.

Among other things, the research shows that we need to start presenting financial planning as a desirable career path for women at a young age -- whether it's at Girl Scout meetings, in school or, most importantly, at home. That's how I was initially exposed to what has been a terrific career.


Over the course of my childhood I observed how my parents used money to make life happen, but money wasn't our life. In learning this lesson I found that I wanted to have a career that could help people manage their resources better and take care of their families; I wanted to be considered the "go-to" resource on everything financial -- just like my parents were for my siblings and me.

Now is the time for those of us in the financial planning profession to take action and find ways we can get young girls interested in financial planning and a career as a CFP professional. While we have a long way to go, it starts with all of us who are in this business -- whether at home, in the workplace or in society -- serving as role models for future women financial planning professionals.

Nancy Kistner, CFP, is chairwoman of CFP Board's Women's Initiative and was chairwoman of CFP Board's Board of Directors.

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